Listen to Episode 9

In this episode we look at the principles of holding boundaries but being flexible with rules to give children the experience of winning which is important for developing self esteem

About our hosts:

Sophia Giblin

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sophiagiblin/

A creative entrepreneur who focuses on ways to tackle the root of children’s mental health through play and secure relationships. Due to her own challenging experiences in childhood, Sophia went on to establish a thriving Play & Creative Arts Therapy charity to support other children who have experienced trauma. Her focus is on helping therapists, businesses and charities have more of an impact for children and families that they work with through coaching, strategy, fundraising and mentoring.

Nicole McDonnell

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcdonnellnicole/

Nicole is a mum to two young boys, who also has over 20 years of brand marketing experience. She is a previous Chair Trustee at Clear Sky Charity and has past experience on the Ella’s Kitchen board.  Her roles have included Marketing Director, Head of Ella’s-ness, Global Brand Director with responsibility of creating and building one brand inside and out – including the wellbeing and culture of the team.  Nicole was instrumental in growing Ella’s into a multi-million pound international business, driven by the mission of creating healthy children.

About Treasure Time

Our vision is to drive connected, happy parent-child relationships, for the benefit of the whole family. Our mission and passion is to educate parents in how to become happy, mindful and confident in connecting with their own children through play.

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Value bombs and tweetables:

–  I could actually stand back and let them decide what the rules were – they would change constantly! – and I would be able to watch their little frustrations kind of fizzle away as they practiced this themselves – Nicole

– So what happens is when children feel like they don’t win enough, they’ll change the rules so that they can win – Sophia

– We have been resisting flexing the rules as we don’t want to let them win all the time, not realizing that in play this isn’t the time for the lesson, “you can’t win them all!”  – Nicole

– Sometimes I think that we worry or there’s a fear that if we always let them win, or if we go soft on them, that there’ll be a sore loser. But the opposite is often true. Children who never have the chance to experience feeling of winning may never feel good or capable within games – Sophia

– Boundaries sound like very short statements that are not there to be argued with. So here are some examples. Shoes are for the floor, not the sofa. Food is for eating, not for throwing, water is for the bath, not for the floor – Sophia

Without limits, there is no safety. So children actually really need limits and boundaries to feel safe. And sometimes we might feel mean putting boundaries in place, but children really need them, and they thrive under them. And when they don’t have clear boundaries, they can feel a bit wobbly and a bit unsafe – Sophia

Shownotes

Sophia 

Hey, it’s Sophia, and Nicole. Welcome to the treasure time podcast growing up happy, today’s podcast is all about holding the boundaries and flexing the rules in a play scenario. So this means that taking the other principles of treasure time, making sure you put boundaries in place so that you can allow the child to have freedom of expression that you contain their behaviour so that it’s safe and appropriate. It also means being flexible with rules in games, so that children can make their own rules. Nicole, how do you find this one?

Nicole

I find this one really interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever been that good at boundary setting for myself, Sophia. I’ve been a bit of a people pleaser, people pleaser tendencies. And as a result, I kinda suffered from poor boundaries until recent years to be honest, so naturally, I did find this one really hard to do for the children because I wasn’t that practiced in it for myself 1.39. As for the rules, my close friends from university Rosie and Amanda call me Monica from friends. As I’m a complete “rules control the fun” kinda girl just like Monica! 1.58. So it’s funny because I’m pretty good at bending the rules in like a work setting as I’ve always worked in really creative environments, you know marketing teams where we’ve been deliberately setting out to break rules and stand out from the crowd. And it’s been like an advantage in that scenario. However, at home, I’m a really big fan of neat and orderly and rule following in the main. So even when we are playing like a board game or a garden game with the boys, until recently, we didn’t really flex the rules with them that much once I got my head around that not mattering as much and the point of the game not being about following the rules and winning mantra or cause kind of, the fun just was able to flow a lot more to this flexing of the rules. I could actually stand back let them decide what the rules were- they would change constantly- and I would be able to watch their little frustrations kind of fizzle away as they practiced this themselves. 2.57. So not gonna lie I do have a tense moment every single time I do this, though, because it doesn’t feel natural. But it does feel really, really playful. And I enjoy it when it happens. But it’s not my default mode.

Sophia

Yeah, I think we can get a little bit confused with flexing the rules with children. And sometimes I think that we worry or there’s a fear that if we always let them win, or if we go soft on them, that there’ll be a sore loser. But the opposite is often true. Children who never have the chance to experience feeling of winning may never feel good or capable within games. 4.29 And that really is there’s power as children is that they should be able to win games or you know, they’re good at play. They’re better than us. But it’s only when you feel capable and successful that you can really lose graciously. And that’s where we might start to see difficult behaviour with children where they feel it’s really unfair or they might have real kind of dysregulation if they don’t win. And that can sometimes be linked to a bit bigger feeling, which we’ll discuss today. But that’s why in our treasure time sessions that we teach parents to do we suggest not using games that have typical fixed rules like board games, etc. but finding games that children can create rules for themselves, so they can experience winning under their own rules if that’s what they need to do.

Nicole 

Yeah, during this lockdown, we’ve been playful experimenting with setting really clear boundaries at the end of every day when we do like play in the garden. And we’ve tried hard in this periods and this lead up to doing this podcast I tried really hard to flex the rules in that situation. As my youngest son Harrison, he was particularly getting really, really frustrated easily when he wasn’t winning and it kind of just spoiled everybody’s fun. So given this typical, we have really enjoyed letting the boys kind of take the lead as we’ve ebbed and flowed with the rules of playing it, 321 and out, all the games that we’ve enjoyed when the sun’s been shining, and they’ve evolved each game and even midway during the actual game, they’ll be like, Oh, no, it’s now this or it’s now that you’re like, oh, right okay, thanks for letting me know! Because it’s hard to keep up sometimes. But as we’ve been turning our focus to watching them as we play alongside them, rather than just to win as a competitor in the game it has been so much more fun because we’ve you know, we’ve still enjoyed playing it, but we’ve got to watch in their excitement we’ve watched when they’ve decided to take risks and when they’ve wanted to bend the rules as they’ve wanted to, and liked to win you know and seeing them feel good and take control it, it makes us feel good. It’s a lot more chilled and relaxed. You know, it’s just a more enjoyable experience for everyone in the family. So it really it really works. My husband, though, will be slightly nervous saying all but it’s, you know, it’s that it needs to learn not to always want to win. And that’s, you know, I think that’s really really common, you know, he will lose and So it’s really common for people to feel like that. So that’s in the back of our mains. So and that’s why you know, we have been resisting flexing the rules as we don’t want to let them win all the time. Kind of not realizing that in play this isn’t the time for the lesson, “you can’t win them all!” You know, it’s not the time for it. 7.00

Sophia

Can I put a question back to you, Nicole? With Harrison does he win all the time? In the play? No, he doesn’t win all the time. But when he doesn’t win, he gets really frustrated. And that’s when he changes the rules!

Sophia 

Yeah right, so what happens is when children feel like they don’t win enough, they’ll change the rules so that they can win. 7.33 Because let’s think about what it really feels like as a child to not win or not win as often. And, you know, typically we can see this with siblings, especially the younger sibling, because as good as the oldest, they’re not as advanced. The older sibling is faster or bigger or stronger or quicker. All of those so when it feels not fair, that’s the feeling right? It’s so unfair that I didn’t get to win. And when children they could get quite triggered by it as he as he sort of explained and it can really spoil the fun, if you like. So I would suggest that what that is, its just tapping into some more difficult feelings that the child having of maybe not being good enough. And that’s not necessarily because for any other reason, other than it’s beyond their capability to win against people that are bigger, stronger, quicker, faster.

Nicole

Yeah, totally, totally, totally. And I think it is, is, you know, majority of the time he can keep up with his brother because he is pretty smart. He’s very fast and nimble. So sometimes he can win the races or bounce higher on the trampoline. But there’s a great little example of when we were riding our bikes, you know, there’s two years between them. And, you know, I know a lot of children in Harrison’s class have just learned more recently, you know, to ride without their stabilizers, you know, it’s not uncommon for it to take you know, it spans a couple of years. Well, you’ll learn to play debate without stabilizers. Harrison did it very, very early, because we came back from a holiday at center parks where he had a stabilizer so and then he wanted a bigger boys bike and he wanted to be like Callum. And literally we got home we hadn’t even unpacked the car. And he got, he was like when in the garage, I want to get my bike out and we had to take a stabilizers off. By the end of that day, he could rate his bike without stabilizers because he was so determined to be the same as his big brother. And so yeah, I totally get what you’re saying that is and that drive sometimes it is driven in a really positive way the baking experience you know, he never gave up you know, it’s really really well managed, he had that self confidence and self esteem that he was going to give it a go and make this work. And it was an It was a one on one situation it was in the bike, playing solo if you like, but that determination when it’s put into a family setting or a friend setting isn’t as controlled, you know, the feelings of frustration just spill out.

Sophia 

Yeah, so it’s, it’s, as we said, it can be that comparison thing and just a bit of frustration of not being as advanced and it feels a little bit unfair. And, you know, can tap into that more difficult feeling of sort of not good enough. And so I think we just we need to give kids break when we’re playing with them. Because we don’t want to perpetuate that feeling of not good enough because what can happen over time when have lots of that feeling is, we see it in the films all the time how the hero has to go through lots of trials and tribulations to achieve ultimate success. That requires a lot of resilience and everybody’s an individual and not everyone has enough resilience to keep losing all the time and not have an impact on their self esteem. So it can feed into those bigger feelings of not being good enough. But the good news is that through play we can children those experiences of feeling great and capable and winning. 10.51

Nicole 

Which is great, and quite, quite an easy thing to do. It’s just thinking of physically doing it isn’t it’s just giving that a go. So Sophia, how do you think we as parents can strike that balance of holding kind of firm boundaries and being flexible with the rules? Because sometimes it does feel like a slightly mixed message. Surely some rules are made not to be broken, or is that just an expression? How can children distinguish the difference if we flex the rules? Because like, for example, we don’t really want them to obviously steal from somebody or we don’t want them to throw food at the dinner table. I mean, sometimes like a rules a rule, is it not?

Sophia 

Well, boundaries and rules work together in a place scenario. So I think let’s just be really clear here on like, what’s general day to day life and what’s a because in play, the rules can be slightly different. Generally, rules are made to be abided by, and so are boundaries. So children in general life don’t get much opportunity to test the edges of rules and boundary. It’s, this is the rule and you stick to it. So that’s why it’s really important that we create dedicated play space so that children can skirt around the edges a bit in a safe way to see what works for them as well as an individual. 12.20 And this is important because it allows you to make up their own rules and be in charge but in a really safe way when you have time together, which isn’t usually possible outside of a play scenario, where children have to do as we say, but let’s talk about boundaries for a minute because this is an incredibly important part of raising children or working with children or any kind of dealings with children. Boundaries can look like really broad statements to keep children safe from harm and also to keep the household running in a smooth and consistent way. Boundaries sound like very short statements that are not there to be argued with. So here are some examples. Shoes are for the floor, not the sofa. Food is for eating, not for throwing, water is for the bath, not for the floor. So you can see they’re very short statements for what things are supposed to be where, and that there’s their non negotiables, right. So when a child is breaking that boundary, we can just restate that boundary really short and simple. 13.14

Nicole

That really helped. But those were some of the very first few that you gave me when they were much younger, where we chatted about water is to stay the bath, not to be thrown out of the bath. And it was I just kept having to say it and say it as this little short sentence and it took awhile, but then it started to be respected and they started to understand why mummy would be annoyed when it would be a swimming pool on the floor. It was slippy and it was lady and that’s not safe and but at first for them they didn’t see any of that. They just saw that they were having a lot of fun. You know splashing in the bath.

Sophia

Yeah, exactly, which is why we just keep it very short and simple. And they may not understand it at first, but over time, then you just need to say the short boundary and they get it, they stopped doing it. And what we do with boundaries is that we don’t flex them because there are boundaries, and they’re non negotiable. And they’re there to keep us safe and to keep everything running in order. But the same goes for rules. So rules are normally there to keep us safe from harm. And there are plenty of rules that we have to abide by. So for example, the law, that’s their rules that we have to abide by. So children do need to know how to stick to rules, of course. But when we’re thinking about rules in a treasure time context or in a play context, we are thinking about how we can create play opportunities where there aren’t rules because it gives children the ability to go into their own imagination and creativity and get what they need from the play. And what I mean by that is not there are no rules it’s an absolute free for all. It’s just that there aren’t rules in the play about how play is the play is executed. You let the child to choose, so this means flexing the rules of traditional games and allowing the child to take the lead. And then I think there’s a question that we have to ask ourself, which is, why is it so important to us that our children are sticking to the rules in play? And at what point are we potentially tapping into our own inner child who still finds it unfair when we don’t win? Because that is a genuine question that we should be asking ourselves too, is it that I don’t like it when my child wants to flex the rules to win because it reminds me of when I was a child and I wasn’t allowed to do that, but that could be a real thing as well. 15.30 end

Nicole

So interesting isn’t it, multi layered. So it can be hard to work out whatssometimes right and what to do for the best. So for our listeners, what does healthy boundary setting look like at home? What rules are say great to flex in a play scenario, Sophia?

Sophia

Yeah. So I think it’s important that we don’t get confused between rules and boundaries outside play, boundaries and rules outside of play are non negotiable. And the boundaries within play a non negotiable as well. Boundaries are there, they’re set by parents to keep children safe, to keep us safe, to keep our houses and everything within it. And to keep everything running in an orderly fashion, it’s really important that you have boundaries so that you can manage your stress levels as well. So if you’re managing your stress levels with good boundaries, that has a knock on impact on your children, their stress levels will be lower too. So even if you know an activity will be good for the child to do by themselves, and that goes back to the last session, we talked when we were talking about allowing the child to solve their own problems, you know that that’s good for their development, you may still have to put a boundary in place depending on the time and if it’s appropriate. So for example, you talked about this. I know you really want to pour the milk into the cereal. Hmm. So I know that you want but there’s a boundary here, but Mommy needs to help you with that and I don’t have any spare hands right now. So this time Mommy will pour the milk to make sure it doesn’t make a mess and at the weekend we can pour the milk together. Do you see how the boundaries just kind of come in to contain the activity? And so yeah, it might be okay to do that. If it’s the weekend and you’ve got time, but in this scenario, as a boundary, I need to help you and I can’t help you right now.

Nicole 

So yeah, it makes complete sense. And when you’re explaining these things in a sort of short, concise way like that, it does make sense. It’s not confusing the child, you know, we sometimes we don’t give them enough credit for what they will understand when we explain it carefully and clearly. I think that’s, you know, I’ve certainly been guilty of not explaining myself, you know, just kind of saying, this is the way it is. And I think that’s where there’s been a bit of rubbing tension whereas when I have been explained, you know, leaving the park brilliant example. I’d like to, rather than saying it’s time to leave the park and they don’t want to leave it and say, but it’s time you know, it’s dinner time we’ve got to go, actually saying something more like I know you really want to stay, I want you to leave the park now, because I need time to make dinner when we get home. And you know, it’s not about it being time for something necessarily. It’s just helping explain to them that there’s a reason for mummy making this decision.

Sophia

Yeah, exactly. We kind of miss out that bit in communication with children. Normally, we’re just like, this is the way that it is. And if you don’t follow the rules, then there’ll be consequences, you know, and children are still learning about the world. So now this, this takes a real big like language. It’s a language shift and it’s a mindset shift into being very clear about why you’re doing everything. Why am I saying that you’re not allowed to do that. And that takes a lot of self reflection. So until you do that piece of work, which is let’s be honest, a long and an ongoing piece of work all the time, it won’t be second nature, the first time you do it, you have to listen to this podcast and then listen to it again. And then practice it Treasure Time. And then like, over time, it will become part of your natural language. And you’ll notice it will become part of your language as well. They will really understand boundaries very clearly when you speak in this way, but it does take practice.

Nicole

And it does take practice. I do love it when you know, Harrison, you know, he’s six will come up and say, Mommy, Calum has just broke a boundary. You know, and I think, wow, you know, you know what a boundary is. That’s brilliant, you know, it took me 40 odd years to learn that. So again, it’s just this. Like you both can learn together. And it’s just this great blueprint from you know, knowing the boundaries between work and home or knowing the boundaries within relationships or making time for yourself and you know, it, could it is just a really great skill within treasure time to put in place that the whole family. I find it’s that I found it’s just been one that we’ve been able to talk about learning together really openly.

Sophia

Yeah, exactly. And I think you like learning why it’s important to explain boundaries to your children, but also you’re learning it for yourself why it’s important for me to have boundaries and keep you safe. It’s not just because I feel like it today is because actually, there’s really good reason why you can’t run out into the middle of the road. It’s because you know, that’s a very fairly obvious one to keep you safe. But why can’t my child pour the milk in the cereal? Well, the fact is, we’re about to walk out of the door and they’ve done it before and they will pour the milk all over the table and they’ll get it on their school uniform. They’re all the reasons but we don’t have five minutes to list all the reasons. So sometimes you just say no. But if you say you need mommy’s help with that, and mommy doesn’t have any hands right now, but at the weekend, we can do it together because we have more time. That’s a very clear boundary and it helps explain to the child

Nicole

It is and while we’re in this lockdown situation, you know, you’ve said before Sophia we’ve got slightly more time to experiment and play and let the child take the lead. And you know, today was a really good example where I may be let that happen more than I actually had time for us. So there was a it was quite funny. There’s a little science experiment of vinegar and sitting in an egg setting in vinegar. It’s been there for four or five days, and it’s lovely like it changes color, there’s loads of bubbles, and the eggshell disappears and to really like elasticated cover that just slides off the egg and the egg is spongy like a stress ball would be and they’re touching it because they say oh yeah it’s really spongy and then I can see thinking oh I should go over there and they move away from the sink. And then they press it too hard and this you know, raw egg that’s been sitting in vinegar for four days is all over the kitchen floor. And with you know within an hour, Harrison goes and does watering his sunflower seeds that he’s planted and he said Oh, I forgot to water the mummy and no worries Harrison well you get the jug and you get the water and you know, occasionally they’ll help water the plants in the house. But he ended up putting in too much water and I was thinking don’t interfere don’t interfere and he tried to put it back out and then the soil when the pour onto the floor, back into the jug with some of the water and he’s like mummy I’ve made a bit of a mess what should I do to clean it up? Should I use that pointing to the tea towel or should I use that to the kitchen roll, a cloth and he was and I thought was really good he’s making their you know I could do without all this cleaning up happening today because we’re trying to juggle two times tables and work and, and all the meal prep and everything. And the same has happened in the morning with the cereak wanted a second ball, and he’s going to help himself and I thought I’ll let him do it but it’s quite to near the top and it’s a big box and the inevitable happened and there was lots of rice krispies or cocoa popd all over the counter and on the floor, and we just referenced our day of mistakes and we had a good giggle we were like I said, I think this is your day of mistakes Harrison isn’t it, remember that one mummy had and he just kind of gave us off smile and I’ll be honest, there’s a time where I would have raised my voice and just started grumbling about all these things to them. And adding unnecessary stress to all of us because in reality, we’re not going anywhere, you know, the soil can be cleaned up later, as the breakfast cereal can be cleaned up later, you know, you can just you need to let go of being perfect or aspiring to be perfect, you know, you need to be good enough in this situation and literally turn a blind eye to some of these things and just not worry about them. And I think that’s half the challenges of us you know, setting clear boundaries and flexing the rules is sometimes, it won’t or go to any kind of plan. And it’s being relaxed around that, you know, being creative going with the flow because it’s not easy. Sometimes when you feel that you’ve got 100 things to do or certainly, you know, it was, it was great for me to be able to draw back on the day of mistakes and bring humor back into it, rather than focusing on, you know, any of the negatives, which I could so easily have done.

Sophia

Yeah. And I think he’s really good that he was then willing to help with the cleanup, like, what should I do next? Because that shows a real respect and also ownership of what he’s doing. So rather than just kind of, so I think that’s another fear that people have is that if I allow my child to do these things, are they just going to be belligerent and break rules for the sake of it and then I’m left clearing up a mess, well, actually, your child can take ownership for the whole thing. Obviously, they’re going to need your help at some point. And that’s part of the boundaries, right. So it’s like, well, if, if you’re watering the plants and you make a mess, then you are responsible for cleaning up that mess. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a good boundary to have. It’s a good thing to learn in life. So we can use that when we’re, you know, 18 years old and going off to university and we learn that when we use pans and stuff, we don’t just leave them lying around someone else to pick them up, its good life skills. Right?

Nicole

Yeah, they are life skills. And it’s very interesting because the more boundary setting that we’ve put in place at home, and clear communication of those boundaries and responsibilities to children have actually become more and more responsible. So we’ve got one in place at the moment, we’re like, Well, actually, we’re living at home in lockdown we’re not as rushed in the mornings and, and at certain stages of the day. So let’s teach the children some of those life skills. So for example, the boundaries that we and we rewrite our boundaries as a family probably, like maybe every two three months, we sit down with the kids and, and probably have five to eight things on a list and the top one never changes. You know, no kicking hitting shouting name calling anyone at any time for any reason it’s a red boundary, it’s not to be crossed. And there’s something negative does happen if that if that if that boundary is crossed, all the others are just boundaries that we should respect is what we talked about. So we’ve put in place that we’re not to go downstairs in the morning unless we’ve made our own bed, brush their own teeth, and changed, put clothes on changed our pajamas. So that’s been fascinating how they have really really just taken it on they’ve been fantastic about it. They’ve made their beds nearly every day there’s been a couple of days where they’ve said oh ive forgot and and we said well that’s okay. It doesn’t matter go up known do it is you know, we all forget sometimes. And, you know, a few weeks in, they’re just making their bed as routine practice. It’s like oh, that’s fantastic. So we’ve moved on to the next thing which is clearing your plates after dinner and lunch because men tend to they just get up and leave the table and they don’t do that and many families that their kids may be already doing that. Fantastic but it’s not something that my boys have really ever done. It’s been a bit occasional and hit and miss but no, they know they take their plate, they make sure it’s clean, they pop it in the dishwasher and they’ve been occasionally then helping up with washing pots and pans and occasionally set in the table. So it’s just

drip feeding all these things in but I definitely can look back and I think they are better behaved and take more responsibility. The clearer these Boundary setting has been they’ve almost like I don’t know, it’s almost like it’s been a little bit of a relief for them. Like oh I know now, it’s really clear to me what’s expected. And, and that’s easier to follow us. And if you’ve got short sentences of what is and what isn’t how we do things around here, it’s easy, and it’s less stressful for everyone.

Sophia 

Because its consistent. And it’s not based on your mood that day as to what happens, you know, it’s very clear. And there’s a great quote by Gary Landreth, which says, without limits, there is no safety. So children actually really need limits and boundaries to feel safe. And sometimes we might feel mean putting boundaries in place, but children really need them, and they thrive under them. And when they, when they don’t have clear boundaries, they can feel a bit wobbly and a bit unsafe. And that’s when you start to see behaviours where children can really grasp for control. 29.40 And this can even look like things like stealing or hoarding or excessive organization or sometimes being controlling in relationships and friendships or with siblings, and it comes from maybe that feeling of being out of control. So when they have really clear boundaries, they can just relax a bit. And a lot of these challenges can be reduced by keeping safe boundaries for your child, but also for yourself. So that this is again, it’s always a two way street, isn’t it on treasure time podcast?

Nicole 

It is. I didn’t realize how much it was. Yeah, a little bit of time thinking about my behavior,

Sophia 

That’s the tiring part. I think we’re just on automatic most of the time. So when we can just be reflective, lots of this stuff will shift really quickly.

Nicole

That does, that’s the thing is, is all of these things, a little bit of time and attention. But it’s not a lot of effort to make these subtle changes that do make a really big difference quickly.

Sophia

 Absolutely. And as always, my favourite thing about treasure time and the treasure time play that we teach people is that it gives parents the opportunity to practice these skills together with their child each week to learn how their child reacts and responds to these sorts of things that we’re talking about like boundaries and rules. And then naturally, people will start using these principles in day to day life like you have Nicole, it becomes the way that you frame your life at home. You have things like clear boundaries, flexible play, allowing the child to lead, being aware of our own reactions and feelings are also allowing children freedom of expression and accepting their feelings. And that happens then just all the time naturally, once we can practice it, parents practicing these things during 30 minutes of play a week helps it just to leak out into normal life and it will just become part of your way of being. So something that I recommend that everybody who listened this podcast does off the back of this episode, and all around rules and boundaries, is allow your child to teach you a game. They and that game might be a game that you already know. But you’re going to pretend that you don’t. You’re going to get a game that immediately game without rules. So a good example here is like with a deck of cards depending on how old your child is. And you can let them teach you a game. And they might try and teach you new rules to game like snap. That’s okay, just go with the child rules. Or what you could do is you could get a game that that typically does have rules, and then just give your child a free pass to make up their own rules if they want. So a good example of this is top Trumps, because you never know what the child has in their hand, you don’t necessarily know if the child is lying or cheating. Or they might say, Oh, well, I win that round, because actually, I’ve got the lowest points, you know, they might start making up rules like that, and just go with it and just be like, Oh, you are so good at this game. You are really beating me here. And you can you’ll notice that children who need to experience winning a bit more will sometimes bend the rules in their favour, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. In this type of play. Just allow them to do it. Because it’s part of what they need to do and children who don’t have that need probably won’t do it quite so much. But just give them permission to make up the rules and play by their rules. For that game, and your job, as always, is just to notice what they’re doing. And be curious, just like David Attenborough watching his wild animals.

Nicole

It’s really great advice. I love hearing it all over again and the opportunity to chat to you because you just, you just don’t learn these things as a one off if it doesn’t work like that does it takes patience and practice and the great thing about this is because it’s all about focusing on your child, like your most precious thing in your life and it is just so much fun and wonder like stopping and watching them like this. It’s really good. And we did actually do the game with a deck of cards, but we chose Uno. And it was hilarious, because they you know, they change the rules of cards that you know, if it’s normally a pickup to it was that you had to give two away it was because it was the opposite of what it usually is. It was so confusing as an adult, but it’s funny because the kids are just like, Oh yeah, they totally get it. And they, they had a lot of fun. And sometimes if Harrison was a winning, or it wasn’t going the way he wanted it to, he did just change it halfway through as well. And that’s okay, you know, and the rest of us just went along with it. And it was good fun. It was good. It was really just lovely to see them enjoy being with you and playing and knowing that it really doesn’t matter what the rules are, as long as you’re having a bit of fun together and enjoying each other’s time. So yeah, I can’t wait to hear what other parents they think of how their children reacted to being given a deck of cards.

Sophia 

Yeah, absolutely. And like, like you said, all of these skills take practice. This is lifelong learning and it’s so specific to your child. But just for everybody to remember that you are the expert in your child and every child is different. And really this is all about as Nicole said, the relationship between yourself and the child, the play is a vehicle to allow that to happen in the best way possible.

Nicole 

Brilliant. So next episode, really exciting we’re going to hear from one of our treasure team parents, one of our first parents that have been through the beginning of the course. She’s called Anna and she lives in Washington DC with her two sons, husband, dog. And yeah, Anna is going to be on telling us and sharing next week about her experience of treasure time.

Anna

Just wanted to commend you both for the excellent work you’re doing and to provide you with an update that it’s taken me some time to get through the first modules of treasured time. And I finally got my box ready and tomorrow will be your first session! So I am inviting Luke later today to join me tomorrow and I will let you know how it goes. I’m super excited about it. I’m already implementing some of the things I’m learning and I look forward to growing closer to him and seeing some more improvements in his behavior and just that he can grow up healthy.

Sophia 

Thank you so much for listening. Make sure to tune in for our next episode is going to be a good one. We’ll get to hear all about Anna Luke’s first treasure time session together. We’d love it if you could head over to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast and give us a lovely five star review and some words to help us keep reaching more and more parents with our treasure time podcast. Thank you so much and bye for now. See you in the next episode.